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No. 21/25 Raiders continue road swing at Southern Miss

Middle Tennessee enters both polls for first time since 2007

February 4, 2014 · @MTAthletics

No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee (18-3, 7-0 Conference USA) closes out a two-game road swing with a visit to Southern Miss (15-5, 4-3 C-USA) on Wednesday. Tip-off between the Blue Raiders and Golden Eagles is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg.

GAME INFORMATION

Matchup: No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee at Southern Miss
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Hattiesburg, Miss.
Arena: Reed Green Coliseum (8,095)

SERIES INFORMATION

Overall: Series tied, 1-1
Under Rick Insell: First Meeting
In Hattiesburg: First Meeting
Last Meeting: USM 77, MT 65 - Dec. 17, 1979

MEDIA INFORMATION

Radio: WMOT 89.5 FM/WGNS 100.5 FM/1450 AM
Play-by-Play: Dick Palmer
Live Video (C-USA Digital Network) - Live Audio - Live Stats

Quick Hitters

• No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee (18-3, 7-0 Conference USA) takes its 17-game win streak to Southern Miss (15-5, 4-3 C-USA) on Wednesday. The Golden Eagles and Raiders were originally scheduled to meet last Wednesday, Jan. 29, but the game was postponed due to icy weather in Hattiesburg.
• The Blue Raiders picked up a 67-57 victory at Tulsa last Saturday. Senior Ebony Rowe had 18 points and 15 rebounds in the victory for her 17th double-double this season. KeKe Stewart added 12 points, while freshman China Dow narrowly missed a career-high with 10 points.
• MT's 17-game winning streak is the fourth longest in program history. The streak is tied for the fifth longest in the country with Wichita State. The streak is tied with UTEP's 2007-08 team for the second longest in C-USA history.
• For the first time since 2007, MT is in both the AP (21) and USA Today Coaches (25) poll.
Ebony Rowe ranks 11th nationally with 11.7 rebounds per game and 18th in the NCAA with 21.8 points per game. Rowe's 17 double-doubles is seventh in the nation.

What Happened at Tulsa

• No. 25 Middle Tennessee withstood a potential TU comeback and knocked off Tulsa, 67-57, on Saturday. The Blue Raiders were paced by All-America candidate Ebony Rowe, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds in the win. Senior KeKe Stewart posted 12 points, while freshman China Dow chipped in with 10 in the victory.

Defensive Success

• The 54.4 points allowed per game by the Blue Raiders through the team's first 21 games are the fewest in Conference USA and ranks sixth nationally.
• MT is third in C-USA and 54th in the NCAA in field goal defense at 36.8 percent.
• Opponent miscues have been mantra for the Blue Raiders during the streak, as MT has forced 20 opponent turnovers, giving up just 14 for a +6 turnover margin.
• During league only games, MT is tops in C-USA with a +17.1 scoring margin, 50.4 scoring defense and +9 turnover margin.

Raiders in the Polls

• Middle Tennessee climbed four spots to No. 21 in the Associated Press poll released on Monday and reached the USA Today Coaches poll for the first time this season at No. 25 on Tuesday.
• It is the first coaches poll ranking for MT since March 2010.
• The AP ranking is the highest for MT since ranking 17th in the final 2007 poll.
• The Blue Raiders are in both polls for the first time since 2007.
• The last time a C-USA team was ranked in the AP Top 25 was during the 2010-11 season when appeared Houston twice.

Series with the Golden Eagles

• Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee meet for the third time in program history. The two squads first met on Dec. 15, 1977 when the Raiders edged the Golden Eagles 82-75 in overtime in the Blue Mountain (Miss.) Tournament. USM later returned the favor with a 77-65 win in Hattiesburg on Dec. 17, 1979.
• Wednesday's contest is the first visit for MT in the Magnolia State since playing at Ole Miss in 1999.
• Coach Joye Lee-McNelis, who coached at Memphis 1991-2004, is 3-4 all-time against the Blue Raiders.
• MT assistant coach Kim Brewton spent two years at USM as an administrative assistant and radio color analyst.

Scouting Southern Miss

• Southern Miss (15-5, 4-3) has lost three out of their last five games. The Eagles have reeled off two straight wins, including a 74-58 victory at Rice on Saturday. USM is the league's second highest scoring offense with 78.4 ppg. USM leads C-USA in FG percentage (46.3), assists (18.6) and steals (11.1). The Golden Eagles are led by Jamierra Faulkner with 16.4 ppg and a nation-best 8.3 assists per contest. Also in double figures are Tamara Jones and Jerontay Clemons with 14.0 and 11.3 points per game, respectively. USM is giving up just 65.5 points per game, while allowing opponents to shoot just 39 percent from the field.

Streaking Ahead

• MT's 17-game win streak is fourth all-time in program history.
• The win streak is currently tied for fifth nationally with Wichita State.
• Rick Insell's squad has produced win streaks of 10 or more in six of his nine seasons as coach. The Raiders' longest win streak was set in 2006-07 when the Blue Raiders posted 27 victories.
• The 17-game win streak is tied with UTEP's 2007-08 as the second longest in Conference USA history. 

Raiders' RPI Rating

• Middle Tennessee has an RPI rating of 26 in the latest NCAA RPI report. Other top-100 C-USA teams include UTEP (51), ECU (67) and Southern Miss (78) and Tulane (96).
• C-USA's RPI is 10th out 32 leagues.

Turnover Magic 

• Middle Tennessee has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 14 games this season. The Blue Raiders have racked up 20+ points off turnovers in 10 of the last 11 games. MT has reached 30+ points off turnovers in wins over Kennesaw State (32) and North Texas (31).

Raiders have Depth 

• Middle Tennessee has one of its most balanced teams to date in the Rick Insell era. The Raiders have six players averaging 4.4 or more points per game.
• Beyond Ebony Rowe's 22 points per contest, KeKe Stewart is boasting 9.4 ppg. Freshman Olivia Jones is near double figures with 8.8 ppg, while Shanice Cason follows with 8.1. Laken Leonard (6.8 ppg) and China Dow (4.4) are also significant contributing factors.

Play 4Kay Power of Pink Game Set for Feb. 8

• Middle Tennessee will host its annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game on Feb. 8. The Raiders host Rice in a 2 p.m. Conference USA matchup. Fans are encouraged to wear pink. Jerseys will be auctioned off, as well as women cancer survivors recognized during the contest.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.